A couple weeks ago, I promised you that I’d “offer my two cents on whether you really need to be on social media to make it as an artist.”
I’m a man of my word when I remember to be. So, as promised, here are my two cents on whether you need to be on social media:
No, you don’t need to be on social media to make it as an artist.
That’s my bottom-line opinion. I could cut the post here and leave you with a pretty controversial take, eh?
I should do it. I really should. It’d be quite devil-may-care of me.
But I won’t.
I just can’t help myself, so as always, I’ll qualify my answer with plenty of caveats. Here’s the more nuanced version.
It’s all dependent upon how you define your terms.
Like, what does it mean to be “on” social media? Does it mean that you post seven times per day – or does it mean that you have an Instagram account somewhere in the ether or a YouTube channel that’s been collecting dust for the last nine years?
And what does it mean to “make it“? Does it mean to make a full-time living as an artist? Or does it mean to connect meaningfully with people around your music? Or does it mean to sign to a label? Or to become the next Justin Bieber?
And what the hell is an “artist“?
I could chase any of these definitions down (very long) rabbit trails, but I’ll forego that temptation for now.
The overarching point is that, depending on your goals, social media will be more or less useful.
Want to bring in some cash as a session cellist? Great. You can spend less than five minutes on Instagram per year. Want to get a song on TV? You don’t even need a YouTube channel. Want to play meaningful house shows? You can forgive yourself for not live streaming four times a week on TikTok.
But, with that said…
I think for most of you, social media probably is worth some investment of time and energy.
Because I think most of you are chasing some version of the archetypal artist – i.e., you want average listeners to become fans of your artistry.
And if that’s true, then social media serves three purposes very effectively.
1) It functions as a point of social proof.
2) It provides a forum for your fan community.
3) It’s a super effective way to get in front of new eyes.
I mean, just look around; every single one of Spotify’s 10 Best New Artist nominees this year has hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of social media followers. Social media is table stakes for this sort of modern music industry game.
So that’s my two cents on whether or not you actually need to be on social media: It depends on your goals, but for most of you, the answer is probably a nuanced yes.
“Great, so did you really need to write about this in a new post?” you ask. “It seems like you basically ended up saying nothing.”
That’s a fair question, and the answer to it is a resounding no (although I do think that labeling what’s above as “nothing” is a little harsh).
Look, I’m not totally naïve.
I know that it’s 2023. I realize that most artists long ago accepted social media as a job requirement, since we’ve had nearly two decades to confirm the fact that social followers give our lives meaning.
And I’m aware that Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Olivia Rodrigo, and almost every other major modern star first broke big via some form of social media.
So yeah, I know my initial question isn’t the most modern frame for this conversation.
But I wanted to write this post for two reasons.
First, believe it or not, a lot of people still ask me if they need to be on social, and I wanted to give them an answer.
Second, I want to relieve some of the guilt that I think a lot of artists feel for not posting three times per day.
It all boils down to this: Be intentional. Use social media in a way that supports your goals. Don’t use social media just because some internet guru said you should. And don’t feel guilty if you aren’t living up to the advice you read in marketing posts.
Personally, I’m still not on TikTok, and I plan to keep that going forever.
But then again, I also planned to post this last week, so I guess you never know what’ll happen. We’ll see.